One fine Saturday in 2001, Martha Karua was sitting three chairs away from President Moi at a harambee in Kerugoya.
Things were going well, until a local Kanu chairman took the microphone and declared the opposition mad, among other unsavoury things.
Karua, then an opposition MP, asked for the microphone to defend the honour of the Opposition and the Kenyans who elected the Opposition.
When her request was denied, she knew she would be submitting to public mockery and rhetoric that could begin reversing democratic gains. She knew she would not just be letting herself down, but also the people she represented. Martha gathered her things and walked out as the President addressed the crowd. But she did not leave before raising her hand in the DP salute.
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Later in 2009, Karua was Mwai Kibaki’s minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs. She was raring to make judicial reforms and transformations, until she was frustrated from within to the extent that she could not discharge her duties.
Her parting shot then was: “If my hands are tied and the Judiciary continues to be used as a place where people sacked from parastatals are recycled, the agenda is forestalled and all reforms are annihilated, then I better leave and fight for the rights of ordinary mwananchi”. She gathered her things and walked out of a plush ministerial post.
Fast forward to 2022, and Karua’s next political position is likely to be that of Deputy President serving under Raila Odinga. In my view, the two events, in 2001 and in 2008 tell us that Karua will be the most steadfast, focused and faithful Deputy President, and for four reasons.
The first reason is straightforward. Karua has never quit on those who have elected her. She has never walked out on the ones who have given her the mandate to lead - and that is the people. The role of Deputy President is constitutionally given by the people on the ballot.
The second reason Karua will make the best DP is that she has demonstrated that power, position and privilege have never been her aspirations. On both events, she exited on behalf of the people at a personal expense. She gave up a lot, considering the strides she had made, and what it had taken to get her to such a significant ministerial docket. The easier thing to do would have been to stay put and earn perks.
The office of Deputy President is a dangerous position to hold for an individual who has blind, raging ambition. This is because the preoccupation with power and how to clinch the presidency becomes a permanent obsession. This of course results in two things: instability, as the DP undermines the President, and a waste of public resources since the DP is too distracted to discharge his duties.
Thirdly, Karua’s courage is only activated when it comes to principle and the pursuit of the truth. She has stood for unpopular and inconvenient truths. Kenya is at a point where the political culture has faced a long decline, and honesty is in short supply. To reverse this erosion, we are in desperate need of leadership that is unafraid to march boldly where Angels fear to tread.
Finally, the Constitution is Karua’s political North Star. She has said in the past that she is not opposed to constitutional amendment when required, but adherence to the mother law is non-negotiable. It is therefore unlikely that she will make misconstrued misinterpretations of Article 147, which states what her functions as the Deputy President will be. She will at no time determine that she is in fact in a co-presidency.
-The writer is a political analyst and PHD student in political economy. @daisymaina7